Social Identity Theory (SIT) and Self Categorization Theory (SCT)
This study looked at bisexuality with the Social Identity Theory (SIT) and Self Categorization Theory (SCT) as well as a self-identification lens to access the effect of the individual’s health and wellbeing when identifying with a marginalized group. The study believes a person’s health and wellbeing increases once they self-stereotype themselves with the group. The study also speaks about women having significantly higher levels of negative health and wellbeing effects and how the theories may not apply. The study consisted of 42 (33 females, 8 males, and 1 non-binary gender person) who identified as bisexual, from a university between the ages of 21-30. “The measures included in this study were an identity certainty and centrality measure, the Current Thoughts Scale (Heatherton and Polivy, 1991), the Positive and Negative Affect Scale (Watson et al., 1988), and a social belonging measure adapted from Bollen and Hoyle’s (1990) perceived cohesion scale” (2016).
The limitation of this study surrounds the size of the sample population and although the study was conducted with a very small sample, the results show “the process of self-stereotyping that appears to be helpful for other marginalized groups did not seem to benefit bisexual-identified people in the same way in this study” (2016). Johnson, H. J. (2016). Bisexuality, Mental Health, and Media Representation. Journal of Bisexuality, 16(3), 378–396. Retrieved February 2, 2019 from: https://doi-org.proxy.library.stonybrook.edu/10.1080/15299716.2016.1168335 This study addresses the connection between the media (television, films, theater, and music industries) and its’ representation of issues and the impact it has on people’s perceptions, bisexuality and how it is not studied as an individual group but is combined with homosexuality and heterosexuality which in turn, produces inaccurate results, and how bisexuality presents greater risks for mental issues than either of the binary sexual groups.
The mental health of bisexuals is described as the result of minority stress (not only linked to homophobia but also to rejection by straight and gay communities), added stigma and prejudice faced by minority groups which lead to social isolation. Anxiety, depression, high rates of psychological distress, suicidality, alcohol misuse, and self-harming behavior among bisexual populations is noted to be very high. It is also reported that bisexuals do not seek help for mental health issues due to fear of biphobia from health care providers, especially if they are not familiar with the population. Some participants reported health care providers considering bisexuality as a symptom or cause of their mental illness. The media’s representation of bisexuals does not help the situation.
In the media, male bisexuality is erased as female bisexuality is highly oversexualized and bisexuality is experienced differently between the genders. In television and film, female bisexuals are exploited and negated. Either they are sex objects for straight men or portrayed as confused women. Since the media is mostly run by men, women roles are downplayed and lessened by the men who dominate the industry. It is also believed that women in the pop music industry come out as bisexual to gain attention and other pop stars are believed to say they are bisexual for attention and profit but keep in mind, not everyone who claims they are “bi” is being deceitful. In mainstream media, bi women are more prominent than bi men. The study concluded by acknowledging how detrimental negative media representation of bisexuality can contribute to the social environmental effects on an individual’s mental illness. Summary: I chose this topic because, at a point in my life, I was in relationships with several women at different times. As I look back at that part of my life, I can’t honestly pinpoint what I liked about the relationships more.
Whether it was the softness of being with another female or the way they seemed to know what I needed, I remember it was at a time where I couldn’t hold my girl’s hand in public because she said it was not permitted. While writing this paper it was apparent that marginalization, prejudice, oppression, and bias is a daily prescription for individuals; especially mothers, who identify as bisexuals. This surprised me from the beginning of this course. while reading the case studies and the texts, explaining the struggles of being part of the LGBTQ community, and now to dig further into the “B” (bisexuality), I have found that the erasure and the way the community does not recognize bisexuals is ludicrous. How can the LGBTQ community, knowing how hard it was to get this far and nationally recognized, disregards and/or frown upon bisexuals? Throughout this assignment, it appeared that lesbians and gays were as hard on the bisexuals as the heterosexuals were, if not harder. It is like bisexuals are suffering from multiple forms of oppression.